Education: Oddly enough

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A pi to remember: Last weekend, David Thomas, a fireman from Yorkshire, broke the British record for recalling the digits of pi by successfully reciting 22,500 digits at a hotel in Halifax. When the Press Association first ran a report on the achievement, however, they got the third digit wrong. A later report corrected their mistaken 3.164 to 3.1416.

New kids on the starting blocks: A survey of 965 pupils at four middle schools in Massachusetts has revealed that 2.7 per cent of children, some as young as 10, are taking anabolic steroids. Parents and athletics coaches are suspected of buying the drugs. "A cycle of steroids costs a few hundred dollars," said University of Massachusetts researcher Avery Faigenbaum. "I don't know a lot of 10-year-olds who have a couple of hundred dollars.

Mail jail: A college dropout in California has become the first person to be jailed for making death threats by e-mail. Richado Machado sent messages to 59 Asian students at the University of California. At his trial, he testified that he resented Asians because many were academically successful. He had been dismissed from school because of bad grades.

School mistresses: According to a psychologist at Greenwich University, cases of women teachers having affairs with teenage boys are very uncommon. Dr Sue Thorpe told the Press Association it was far more common to find older men having affairs with teenage girls. "From an evolutionary point of view a young boy could be more attractive because he is much more fertile," she explained, but a 30-year-old woman falling for a 15-year-old boy did not fit the usual pattern of female sexual attraction.

Dancing master: Pupils at Coleridge Community College, a comprehensive school in Cambridge, are being taught to dance after a teacher was unimpressed by their shuffling efforts at wedding receptions. Peter Fuller, 52, has incorporated dancing into personal, social and health education lessons for 12- to 13-year-olds. "I think some of them have quite enjoyed it, although they wouldn't admit it because it wouldn't be cool to admit it," Mr Fuller said.

Do rats snore in space? Despite the death of nearly half the 96 experimental baby rats aboard the space shuttle Columbia, research objectives may still be met by scientists sharing out the remaining rats. One positive scientific discovery from the shuttle has already been reported: astronaut-physician Dave Williams has confirmed that humans may snore in conditions of zero- gravity.

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